By Olugbenro Oyekan
MON, NOVEMBER 14 2016-Whenever or wherever the economy is experiencing difficulty and downward trends, such situation presents unique opportunities to make very strategic decisions. Despite unreliable statistics, general market experiences and current social indices in Nigeria are conclusive proofs of a nation in recession. Notwithstanding, only those who remain active despite the pain would be the first to experience and benefit from any recovery.
Therefore, while all frantic efforts are being made at quick turnaround, acquiring quality education, increasing professional proficiency and rising up to the occasion through innovative offerings and market retention idea are few of other smart choices for business professionals and policy makers.
Unfortunately, this may appear the other way round to an average reasoning but the reality is that, it takes more than an average thinking to survive the current trends. Nigeria parades very many impressionable leaders who act by sheer feeling than real thinking, yet a lot depends on them to put an end to the current situation. So in reality, this situation, which seems to have just begun, may end up being a myriad of tragedies never seen before.
Consider the following illustrations. Assuming you are undertaking a night trip on the high way and your driver, who is a good man suddenly disclosed that he cannot see well due to his bad sight while you, the only other person in the car cannot drive. His good nature can’t take you any farther than that point, so it would make sense to rehearse your camping skills as you may have to pass the night in the jungle or find an alternative transportation, which may be any other means safer than your current situation. This might include trekking, boat ride or biking. This is how prepared Nigerians have to be in our current experience akin to what Lagosians call “one chance”.
Where we have found ourselvestoday as a nation and republic is a place of several challenges culminating into one complex wicked problem (Rittel, H., 1960; Buchanan, R., 1992). Although we are in a state of economic recession, the problem is surrounded by many other equally difficult situations. It is true that the problems are not recent but they have recently increased due to the way we have handled them of late. There is tyranny in our democracy. As if that is not bad enough, those vested with power make “betraying” compromises borne out of long unresolved prejudices. Self, politics, hypocrisy and sentiments becloud our reasoning as a polity.
This may just be the time for all Nigerians to learn one thing or the other but of course the leaders may not be ready to learn because of their arrogance. They used to know so much but forgot that knowledge is transient; whatever they knew and were sure of about some 30 years ago, they all have changed now. Yet they don’t know that things are now totally different and this is the crux of their problem. Old ambitions cannot address current challenges and simple solutions won’t resolve complex problems.
Right from this point, things can still get even worse or hopefully better depending on how both the government and the people respond to further developments but if there are some Nigerians who feel that the recession is a fluke, we need to give them till few months more. Another unfortunate reality is that in Nigeria, government don’t communicate adequately, if at all, with the people.
Imagine a government that rely more on few TV and radio stations or print media to disseminate policy information to a people whose population of about 200 million is made of largely young and very active youths. How many people can such government engage? How inclusive can her policies be? Such government is sure to make uninformed and hasty decisions. Indeed, our leaders continue to make so many uninformed and hasty decisions. Even after sixteen (16) months, they have still been unable to fulfil any of their promises during campaigns. Of course the smart ones amongst us knw the manifestoes were all bundles of published lies typical of most of our politicians.
Since May 29, 2015; from ministerial appointment to naira devaluation and anti-corruption crusade, most policies and decisions have traces of sentiments and politics that all smack of vindictive innuendos and stale ideologies, which require total revamping. From recent experience, whenever it takes longer than necessary to decide on anything, it’s usually due to internal inertiawithin government or the reluctance to act in the interest of all. Our priorities have been grossly misplaced even as our leadership continues to run a tribally diverse and civilised society of creative professionals like a regimented garrison.
Lest we should fail, faint and finally fall, there are boundless lessons for everyone to learn from our current situations. Let no one man or group of persons think they are holier than others because they are in privileged positions. Our leaders must come down from their high horses and lead “truly” by examples taking cues from a place like Tanzania. Real leadership should demonstratelove for the people and their welfare far beyond and above discipline or punishment.
Nigeria needs people of both good character and economic competence; these two are mutually exclusive. The current nation requires leaders who can fight corruption and at the same time grow the economy. We need pious politicians, whose characters are hinged more on the measure of their service to the people than on the service to their religious beliefs.
Sadly enough, our religious leaders are not any different from the political leaders because they have positioned themselves as the stooge of the crooked political class, whichseek them out for comfort and succour each time the people attempt to revolt. We seem like a people caught between the biblical torturous Pharaoh and the red sea; hopefully this ocean will give way to us but our Moses seems to be AWOL on this occasion.
By and large, this is either the end of a bad time or the beginning of our worst experience ever. It all depends on how we act and react as individuals and as a people but a lot still rely on our leaders. Nevertheless, we (the masses) have what it takes to force them to change from their old arrogant demeanours. Collectively, we are more powerful than any political or religious leader.In their pursuit to succeed and amass wealth, they (political and religious leaders) all rely on the strength of our population and fortunately for us, that should beour greatest route to true and lasting change. The strength of our number and collective efforts should be our own nuclear weapon to dislodge the wickedness of a few overtly ambitious others and we can activate it at any time starting from this moment. Yes; now we can!
Olugbenro Oyekan is Associate Professor of Practice in Management, Dean of School, International School of Management (ISM